Dear Jimmy, How did we find ourselves here? Who knew that having a baby - seemingly the next, most natural and obvious step in our relationship would, temporarily, render us paralysed!? Ha! How naive we were. I'm sure there are some deep, dark, sub-conscious reasons why I chose you as my life partner and baby daddy, but I don't have the time or the energy to delve, Freud-like, into my inner consciousness. Instead, I shall take this opportunity to say why I know I chose you and why, since having Billie Scout, I have fallen in love with you all over again.
We were together for seven years before we had Billie and boy am I glad that was the case. What if we hadn't known each other inside out? What if we didn't know each other's worst qualities, and seen each other in our most horrifying states? What if having a baby revealed those sides of our personalities to each other for the first time? I'd like to think that we would have worked it through (and maybe we would have) but we would have found what was already the hardest thing, harder, maybe even destructive. We would have terrified each other.
Instead, when I, unwashed, ungrateful, unrested and unthinking, spat out heart splitting criticisms because I felt overwhelmed by all the responsibility that rested with me, you absorbed it. You held me and even though I'm sure you wanted to punch me in the face, you told me that I was right and that you would do more, you would be better and that it would be ok. When I lay shivering with fever, perspiration beading on my forehead, boobs riddled with pain and a look of fear in my eye as I summoned the courage to put her to my breast, you gave me your hand to bite on. You did this at the 7pm feed, the 10pm feed, the 1am feed, the 4am feed and not once, never, did you complain even though I could see the bite marks and the occasional drop of blood come from your skin.
When Billie cried and cried and cried even though she was fed, dry, not too hot, not too cold I would walk up and down the corridor with her. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Sometimes there would be tears streaming down my face as I sang 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' as I searched amongst all my supposedly motherly instincts for something, anything, that would stem the flow of tears. I cried more when I came up with nothing - what was wrong with me? Why couldn't I make her happy? At that moment, you would silently take her from me, strap her into the sling, and walk out of the door with her. Often at night. Often in the rain. I would be left with enough silence to rest, to recover and to remember why I loved you so much.
I know it got too much for you too. As I recovered from various infections, you collapsed under the weight of shouldering so much responsibility for so long. You were exhausted from maintaining a positive vibe, a smile at all times, when really, in the loo you were checking the bank account to see if you could run off to the continent with no one knowing. I know this because you told me. You told me because we tell each other anything and when you're in the trenches with a newborn everything is forgivable. You wanted to run. I wished the social would come. We both lost our tiny minds.
For a while, we lost ourselves. No longer were we a young(-ish) couple in love with disposable income, a great social life, the ability to do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted (and when we could afford it). We struggled within the new parameters to understand each other, to know where we stood and to avoid resentment on many levels. What was my responsibility? What was my new role? How did our lives have to change? Where was your place in this new dynamic? That was hard. It was hard to figure out and while I think we still have some way to go, we are so nearly there.
We forgot to love each other. Amidst the tears and the sleeplessness and the relentlessness of it all, we just forgot. It wasn't that we didn't love each other, it was just that we neglected it; we didn't have time for it; we didn't have the emotional space for it. But, just like everything else, that passed. The pressure eased as we relaxed into our new roles as parents and, as we get more and more comfortable with that every day, we find the space to rediscover our love for each other and you know what? It's better, it's stronger and it's more colourful than before.
In surviving those early days, weeks, months we have developed a new found respect for each other. There have been times when I have marvelled at the man you have become, the father that you are, the husband that you always were. You have seen me morph into a mother, a lover, a caregiver all at the same time. We are more tired than we ever were, more skint than we've ever been...but we are also more than we thought we could be.
There were times when we both genuinely believed that we could not do this. That we had given it our best shot but that it just wasn't for us. There were times when we both secretly (and not-so-secretly) questioned our decision to ever have children. There were times when we screamed and shouted at each other out of desperation and exhaustion and ended up in a pile on the floor sobbing while Billie lay there oblivious and asleep reminding us silently that there were bigger, more important things for us to worry about.
But there were also amazing times. There were long mornings spent in bed snuggling. There were smiles and giggles and sleep. There were funny noises and baby farts and projectile vomit that had us laughing hysterically as it landed in your wine glass. And of course, eventually there was sleep...and slowly but surely we adjusted and settled into this new life that we had thrust upon ourselves.
Now, we are getting there. We are not yet experts but will we ever be? But we are comfortable enough to be enjoying every minute with the Bear Cub. The enjoyment is now outweighing the worry and the stress and the pressure and we, as a couple, are learning how to love each other wholly and fully again in this new world. Life if good. Billie Scout is amazing and that, that is why I chose you as my life partner and my baby daddy.
Oh, and because you play ukelele with her every single morning.
The Bear x